Do you know the average film budget for a conventional studio feature? It’s $65 million, not even taking into account the usual $35 million more for advertising and promotion. There is no doubt that such numbers stand to dissuade many promising filmmakers from even getting started.
However, no matter how you judge a film—its viewability, box office returns, Oscar-winning status or personal interpretation—the fact is that the size of movie production budgets doesn’t always correlate with success.
With all the tech available for filmmakers, there’s not a lot keeping you from shooting your own low-budget blockbuster, either. In fact, the history of film is rich in productions with small budgets that have become hits.
When Movies Are Big But Their Budgets Aren’t
Cinematic greatness is rarely limited by small movie budgets when the level of resourcefulness and passion of creators, makers and performers is high.
The horror film Paranormal Activity may be the cream of the low-cost crop, with an original budget of only $15,000 but earning $193 million worldwide so far. Another horror film, The Blair Witch Project, only cost $60,000 to make and has grossed $248 million.
Indeed, horror is a dominant genre in the micro-budget category, largely because of the way horror fans prioritize effect over costly elements that are typically more important in movies of other genres. But it’s not the only genre that’s scared of big profits despite small movie budgets. Just for fun, try to guess which films are referenced in this next part before checking the links to find out what they are.
Such micro-budget genres and representative films include a science fiction piece where time travel is accidentally discovered (made for $7,000), a western crime thriller with a traveling guitarist mistaken for a hitman ($7,000), and a comedy about two young Australian women on a side trip to San Francisco ($5,000). Just one more example and guess to make—a romantic drama about an American photographer running into a former lover in Paris which had the lowest of movie production budgets ever—$0—but earned over $200,000 anyway.
How to Make Big Movies With Little Money
The success of some low-budget films can indeed be attributed to lack of funding and not despite it, considering the greater resourcefulness, emphasis on creative solutions and streamlined focus on storyline involved.
However, without a camera of some kind, editing software and peripherals such as lights and microphones—the tech behind the takes—there’d be no movie at all.
Nowadays, though, these basics are attainable on budgets of nearly any size, with no need for the expensive technology modern movies with big budgets use.
Although consumer digital video cameras are the least expensive kind, they provide little of the manual control you’ll want (unless, of course, a fully automatic camera fits into your artistic vision). After all, you can purchase a decent prosumer camera with more manual control and features for only a few hundred dollars, and you can rent one for much less.
In fact, having a standalone camera isn’t even necessary. Oscar-winning movies have been filmed entirely with just an iPhone.
As far as post-production goes, monthly subscriptions to even industry-leading software like Avid or Adobe Media Pro are no more expensive than a couple of streaming services.
Along with inexpensive movie technology, following good tips and learning from the experiences of other low-budget film creators can help you identify and efficiently use all possible resources. Two essential tips are not skimping on little things that could end up costing you big and having realistic expectations about how resourceful you’ll need to be.
As your cinematic vision unfolds, you’ll also want to find and connect with your audience as well as maximize your resources and results.
And that’s where the scene cuts to Film.io.
Film.io: Your Best Move as a Movie Maker, From Production to Premiere
Film.io’s innovative platform is as cutting edge as the budget-friendly film technology previously mentioned. And that starts with the technology the platform is built on—blockchain.
Film.io’s blockchain provides benefits that any stakeholder—fan, creator, maker or investor—would want a film financing platform to be based on. Such benefits include decentralization of greenlighting authority, transparency of transactions, removal of costly intermediaries, minimization of investment risk, and experiential as well as financial opportunities for everyone involved.
Built on top of Film.io’s blockchain infrastructure, the platform is an ecosystem of film opportunity that’s just as solid as the blockchain itself—a cycle of mutual development, engagement and constructive critique that flows through the fan-creator relationship and sees a project through to its most effective and profitable end.
Through communication with fans and diverse avenues of fan participation, Film.io’s platform helps creators develop a strong fan base and ensures their projects speak to the audiences they aim to address.
In the platform’s ecosystem of film projects, fans vote for their favorites by using its native FAN movie token. Their votes predominantly determine which films are greenlit and financed, in a gamified process culminating in an innovative ‘Go Score’ that propels creators through development and financing, with access to state-of-the-art tools for promoting and presenting their work.
By having fans help drive greenlighting decisions, Film.io allows potential investors to gauge a project’s level of risk before investing in it. A high level of acceptable risk is yet another aspect of the established movie industry that Film.io stands to turn on its head.
Although low-budget productions can make it big, the reverse case happens more often than it should. While big movie production budgets can pay off, they too often fail to succeed, in both audience satisfaction and earnings. Some of the worst losses have totaled $100 million plus.
You may be surprised to hear that the established movie industry loses money on 80% of releases while banking on a few hits. This approach may suit VC startup investment, but it shortchanges film investors and fans, who deserve better, while holding back some great creators and makers whose original works remain unnoticed.
Ultimately, Film.io is establishing a new kind of movie industry that rewards all stakeholders—including creators starting out with any size of budget—in ways never before imagined.